Cleveland: Circle Our City With Love

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Cleveland Mandala

I’m so excited to have an art piece in Willoughby’s “The Art Gallery” this month! It’s part of an art show for the Northern Ohio Illustrator’s Society (NOIS) called “All Things Cleveland.”

My inspiration for the piece was an event that occurred on the eve of the Republican National Convention here in Cleveland. After the attacks on police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, People around Cleveland were very worried that riots would break out big time for the week of the RNC.

I discovered that week that there was a special event called “Circle the City with Love” in which a huge group of people gathered on Cleveland’s Hope Memorial Bridge to hold hands and pray silently for peace. This was a non-political movement, all about spreading the message of peace and love to the city of Cleveland.

I was amazed to hear that people came from as far as Columbus to participate in this peace movement. Thousands gathered. There were no signs of protest… just an endless line of people on the Hope Bridge holding hands and showing their support of love to the city and its officers.

It it merely a coincidence that the week was without incident? The only harm done to anyone for that entire week was when someone accidentally scorched himself while attempting to burn an American flag. A couple officers were bruised up during the tussle while trying to protect the guy from lighting himself on fire!

I decided this “Circle The City With Love” event was going to be my subject of inspiration for my Cleveland piece. I’m looking forward to the show’s opening on September 9th, 6:30-9:00pm. I’ll be thrilled if the piece sells! I had so much fun creating it! I took out all the stops, adding sparkling gems, colorful yarn and ribbons, a dangling angel charm, and a handmade charm made of Angelite gemstone.

I call it my “Cleveland Mandala: Circle Our City With Love.”

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Cleveland Mandala: Circle Our City With Love

Sweet Tea Memories

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sweet memoriesI ended up taking a month sabbatical in the Carolinas in June. It wasn’t the plan, but I sure do feel refreshed. I spent most of my time with my mom in NC, learning how to get her homemade iced tea down just right so I could keep a jug in the fridge always whenever we wanted to treat ourselves (I lived on the stuff for the whole month).

I was running very late on this project to do an illustrated recipe as a promotional piece for the Northern Ohio Illustrators Society’s annual cookbook. I’ve just been SO busy with freelance, I’ve had to put my personal projects on hold.

So I had my husband ship my Wacom tablet to me in NC so I could get cracking finally on this promo piece. I had no idea what to do, and then realized I should just use my mom’s iced tea formula for my recipe.

When faced with what to use for my illustration, I had my computer set up with a view of my mom’s screened-in porch and thought it would be fun to memorialize all the different elements I saw on her porch – so many different potted plants, tables, and wicker chairs. And I had to get some hummingbirds in there for added character (my mom has a few hummingbird feeders in her backyard too).

 

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Final Piece!

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Rough Sketch

The Googuwams and the Vanishing Moon ~ My newest illustrated project published!

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THUMBNAIL_IMAGEA couple years ago, my friend Dawn Richerson visited Cleveland and I was grateful to get the chance to meet with her in person at long last. She spoke to me about her husband’s writing projects and I was intrigued. I loved the concepts and enjoyed the idea about collaborating on Tim’s first picture book! At the time I was looking for ways to further develop my portfolio with more personal projects and looking for ways to explore new Photoshop techniques.

I was thrilled today to receive my complimentary copy of Tim Richerson’s The Googuwams and the Vanishing Moon. This was a project I’d been working on for quite a while. Picture books are always a huge undertaking, and even though I tried to cut corners by using a simple character design and reusing background imagery and textures, there seems to ultimately be no way to really make the production of 28 full-color illustrations a quick and simple task (DUH! Live and learn!).

It sure is wonderful to see my work in final print, I must say. And since I plan to use CreateSpace.com for my next full-color picture book, I’m happy to see the quality of CreateSpace seems to work well for full color after all.

Here is a sneak peek at a few of my favorite illustrations from the book. It’s an educational yet entertaining story about the lunar eclipse!

FREE Coloring Page Download, inspired by photo of my daughter.

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I’ve felt inspired by this recent IMG_7183photo I took of my daughter when we took a family outing to Squire’s Castle in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. It’s not a far trek from where I live, really, which is amazing since I live in the suburbs around Cleveland.

You just never know what kind of treasure you will find around your own city.

I took a series of photos of my daughter while my husband and son went hiking and adventuring for a while, and this was one of my favorites (at right). I was feeling rather melancholy that day, and it sure showed up in this photo. But I see more in this photo, and decided to illustrate it in this coloring page. You could color it to fit your own mood, and you can also add to the border to give it your own artistic flair! Perhaps even journal around the blank area if you wish (what does this image communicate to you?).

DOWNLOAD COLORING PAGE

See my initial sketch for the page below:

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Visiting My Alma Mater, Piedmont High School

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Me with Piedmont art teachers, Tracy Price and Tiffany Medford!

I had the wonderful opportunity last week to visit Piedmont High School (my HS alma mater) to give a series of art talks to all the art students. Tracy Price contacted me initially, and I was thrilled to accept her invitation to speak! Mrs. Price is now the head of Piedmont’s Art Department. When I visited the school I was WOWed by how much the art department has grown since I was there (1988-’92). When I was there, there was only one art classroom, and it was HALF the size of the classrooms they have now. The art department now has two classrooms that are enormous! I was super-impressed!

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photo of me found in Tracy Price’s Piedmont scrapbook!

It sure did feel like a full-circle experience for me. When I was in high school, I was extremely shy, but tried to shed my fears by taking drama classes. Toastmasters has since cured me of my fears of public speaking, so it was wonderful to say an enthusiastic YES to this opportunity to share my creative professional journey with the art students!

 

 

I put a Powerpoint presentation together of my work and for the first time ever, I used the technology available to use that Powerpoint as a visual aid for my talk. That was a growing experience for me. I learned how to use the “smart board” they had there. Thank goodness I arrived way early, so I was able to get myself familiar with the room and the technology!

For my talk, I decided to go through my development as a creative professional, beginning with my experiences as a professional caricature artist. I spoke about beginning this as my summer job during college at Carowinds, moving on from that to setting up my caricature stand at festivals, and finally taking it to the next level by doing 2-8 hour gigs, getting paid hourly to set my easel up for various events. I showed several fun photos of the locations I’ve had the advantage to travel to, and told my favorite story about doing a caricature as part of a man’s marriage proposal (I will have to blog separately about that! A great story!).

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Me drawing Tracy Price, head of Piedmont High’s Art Department!

 

After telling my caricature journey, I went into my experiences working as a Product Designer for American Greetings and then as an artist for Blue Frog Gaming, and finally my life as it is now, working as a full time freelancer!

WHEW! There was a lot to talk about! And afterward, I did a caricature demo of each of the art teachers! Glad I brought my easel!

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Me with two Piedmont students – wearing our “Weird buttons” along with my WMW book!

I brought my “Wearing My Weird” giveaway buttons as favors to give to the kids at Piedmont. It just felt like a good idea to me. I was thrilled when a group of girls started taking photos of themselves wearing the buttons and then asked to take a photo with me holding my book with us all wearing our WMW buttons!  That was a wonderful moment for me!

 

I had to blog about this special opportunity I had. Thank goodness I was able to come down to NC during my kids’ spring break vacation. Now the Piedmont district is on their spring break, and I wish them well! What a joy it was to visit them and to hug my high school art teacher again!

A big thanks to my teacher Mrs. Price for the creative enrichment she has given to so many Piedmont students, including myself. I am deeply grateful!

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Art Club photo from Mrs. Price’s scrapbook! (left to right: Christy Cornett, Rebecca Starnes, Trenda Furr and me)

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Presentation setup in one of the art classrooms, with photo of my kids as part of my Powerpoint presentation.

 

My Book Launch ~ The Bad/Good Day Book!

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bookI am so very excited about the launch of my newest book, The Very, Very, Very Bad/Good Day!

This book was a bit of a publishing struggle, because I ideally prefer Createspace.com as my publisher, but apparently they don’t do flip books.

DOH!

So I quickly had to FLIP my attitude around and try out Lulu.com for the first time, which ended up being a good choice for this book.

It was important for me to publish this as a flip book, because changing one’s attitude around takes ACTION. I wanted the reader to experience the act of flipping the book around to see what would happen if the same character in the same day merely changed his attitude!

This book started out as a concept from Picture Book Idea Month (November, 2014). It was one of the two ideas I had which came to me in a rush – the entire concept was so clear! I’m thrilled I met my personal goal to get it out before the end of this year!

Check out my book trailer below, and check out the actual book on Lulu.com or on my Create-A-Way Books website!